A Russian actor and anti-Putin campaigner has been found dead at his home in Moscow, with some reports suggesting he was found in a “pool of blood”. Alexei Devotchenko had attended a large number of protests against the Russian leader prior to being found dead yesterday, aged just 49-year-old.
Mr Devotchenko caused outrage at the Kremlin three years ago when he returned two state honours awarded by Putin. At the time he expressed his shame at having ever accepted them in the first place. He is quoted in the Daily Mail as having said: “I am completely fed up with this tzar-statedom with its lies, cover-ups, state sanctioned robbery, bribery and other virtues.”
Shortly after returning the honours he was attacked on the Moscow underground and almost killed. However, the attack did not deter him from attacking Putin’s policies and leadership style.
Reports of his death are confused with some agencies saying the incident is being treated as suspicious by police. Others suggest he may have died of a heart attack when drunk, with the ‘pool of blood’ having been caused by him falling into a glass cabinet.
Whatever the reason for Mr Devotchenko’s demise, his relatively young age and his involvement in the United Civil Front are likely to lead to allegations of foul play.
The United Civil Front was founded by chess master Garry Kasparovok, and campaigns for a reduction in Presidential powers. Its members are regularly subject to attacks, which are suspected to be linked to the Russian leadership.
Since Putin came to power in 1999 there has been an increased crackdown on freedoms of expression, assembly and association.